Golovkin shrugs off criticism, longs for PPV validation

By Lyle Fitzsimmons | CBSSports.com

Gennady Golovkin hears the criticism.

Oh sure, the critics say, he's got two shares of the middleweight championship and has a knockout streak that stretches back 16 fights over six years, but he hasn't beaten the same caliber of opposition as many of the other fighters jockeying for similar rungs on the pound-for-pound ladder.

He simply doesn't pay it any mind.

“I don't care about any criticism in this regard, because I'm always open for any fighter. It's not my fault and it's not my problem that many of them don't want to fight me,” Golovkin said, in a phone chat with CBSSports.com. “I don't think (Sergio) Martinez had so many great fighters in his past.”

Golovkin made a consensus rise from second banana to top man at 160 pounds when Martinez was dethroned last month, and he'll fight for the first time since the ascension on Saturday in New York -- where he meets Australian export Daniel Geale atop a two-bout HBO show at Madison Square Garden.

The 33-year-old Geale is 30-2 in a pro career that stretches back to 2004, and, ironically, has previous claims on both the International Boxing Organization (IBO) and World Boxing Association (WBA) title belts that Golovkin will be defending this weekend. Geale held the IBO crown from 2007 to 2009 and defended it once, then won the WBA championship in 2012 but immediately relinquished it in favor of the International Boxing Federation (IBF) belt he'd already held before defeating Felix Sturm.

Sturm had been the WBA's top title-holder for five years before that loss, and the organization elevated Golovkin to its premier championship status upon Geale's abdication. He's since defended that strap five times, and has made seven defenses of the IBO title since winning it in December 2011.

Geale subsequently lost his IBF share to Darren Barker in his debut on U.S. soil last August, but thanks to the relative anonymity of Golovkin's title challengers, the prevailing perception these days is that he's still at least as good, and probably better, than anyone Golovkin has met.

However, the 32-year-old Kazakhstan native -- who's 29-0 with 26 KOs since turning pro in 2006 -- can't be bothered with such analysis.

“I respect all the fighters I've had fights with,” Golovkin said. “Daniel Geale is more experienced. He had titles and only lost the last fight by decision. I hear that a lot of people think that he's the best so far, and if they think that, OK. But I respect all of my opponents.”

Odds-makers are a touch more stubborn in their regard for Geale.

He's a 7 1/2-1 underdog according to a line posted on VegasInsider.com, meaning a $750 windfall would come in exchange for a $100 wager in the event of an upset. On the flip side, Golovkin is a 14-1 favorite, so it'll take $1,400 up front to bring back a $100 profit if he wins Saturday.

And if he does indeed follow through, the invitation for his next in-ring partner remains open.

Though Golovkin insists his primary objective is to continue winning ways among the middleweights, he renewed a previous claim that he'd be willing to bulk up to 168 pounds or slim down to 154 in order to attract the interest of a big-name suitor. It's not a gauntlet he'd be willing to run for a garden variety opponent, but if there was a pay-per-view opportunity to be had in either direction, count him in.

He was reportedly near a match at 168 pounds with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. earlier this year before it fell through, and subsequent dream fight scenarios have paired him with the likes of new World Boxing Council (WBC) middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, former 154-pound kingpin Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and reigning pound-for-pound top man Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“My focus and my goals are at 160, but I will take the fight if it's a pay-per-view fight at the weight above or below,” he said. “There are a lot of talks about those fights, and I think they're kind of seeking advertising off of my name sometimes. I'm open to all of them and I don't want to name anyone, but I'm ready to have fights with all of those fighters.

“I don't know why some of them just don't want to have a fight with me.”

Weekend Watch List

ESPN2 -- Friday 9 p.m.
Breidis Prescott vs. Roberto Garcia -- 10 rounds, welterweights
Derek Ennis vs. Caleb Truax -- eight rounds, middleweights

Fox Sports 1 -- Friday, 10 p.m.
Frankie Gomez vs. Vernon Paris -- 10 rounds, junior welterweights
Ivan Morales vs. Sergio Frias -- 10 rounds, bantamweights

Showtime -- Friday, 10 p.m.
Antoine Douglas vs. Michel Soro -- 10 rounds, middleweights
Jerry Odom vs. Vilier Quinonez -- eight rounds, super middleweights
Cecil McCalla vs. Oscar Godoy -- eight rounds, welterweights
Wanzell Ellison vs. Tony Luis -- eight rounds, lightweights

Telemundo -- Friday, 11:35 p.m.
David Carmona vs. Ricardo Rodriguez -- 10 rounds, junior bantamweights

HBO -- Saturday, 9:30 p.m.
Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Geale -- IBO/WBA middleweight titles
Bryant Jennings vs. Mike Perez -- 12 rounds, heavyweights

UniMas -- Saturday, 11 p.m.
Jose Benavidez vs. Henry Aurad -- eight rounds, welterweights
Oscar Valdez vs. Juan Ruiz -- eight rounds, junior lightweights

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